Wednesday, 20 March 2019

a stroke of genius

Via The Awesomer, we learn that computer powerhouse nVIDIA has developed a generative adversarial network (previously) they’re calling GauGAN, after the post-impressionist Paul Gauguin, which transforms sketches and doodles into convincingly real but wholly fictitious landscapes, scouring billions of images to make a seamless composite scene. The algorithm and subroutine is still being coached but may be available for the general public soon.

mythos: an object lesson

Via Open Culture, we are treated with a series of short vignettes from animator Chris Guyot that communicate the timelessness and universality of Greek myths with no need for exposition but rather through digital geometric abstractions and a bit of resonant, billiard ball physics, recognising that memes are not only an expansive and wide-ranging format but loyal traveling companions as well. In case any of director Stephen Kelleher’s cautionary tales are not immediately familiar, there’s a helpful synopsis of each act at the link above.

Mythos from Stephen Kelleher on Vimeo.

alles klar herr kommissar

Accused of deporting himself like the “high commissioner of an occupying power” instead of a member of the diplomatic corps, German politicians are calling for the expulsion of US Chief of Mission to Germany, Mister Grenell (previously), citing his continual interference and barrage of criticism as having grown intolerable.


In protest to European Union’s rather fraught and problematic Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, to be brought before Parliament, German-speaking Wikipedia—at the consensus of its contributors and users—will shut down for twenty-four hours on March 21.
The most upsetting articles included in the language of the proposal to be debated are the so called “link tax” on news and content aggregators and the requirement that websites and hosting services employ upload filters that would screen out potentially pirated or non-attributed images and video. Media-rights holding clearinghouses initially supported the enforcement measures but have now been less enthusiastic and a consortium of journalists see it as a threat to press freedoms. We all ought to join in, in solidarity.

turf war

These interventions by Amsterdam-based artist Diana Scherer, Exercises in Root System Domestication—courtesy of Colossal—are not only an interesting heuristic to explore the impositions humans place on the untamed, organically, natively intelligent ways of grasses that we ought to not presume to outwit but this intricately trained latticework of roots at the same time holds out the suggestion that through engineering we might make semi-sensible lawns with better drainage capacity and resistant to erosion or crops that stave off pests and weeds structurally. Perhaps crop rotation in the future would mean a season of fallow fields where grasses till the soil and eliminates the need for tractors to do so.

product placement

In addition to the thousands of scientists and engineers behind the Apollo missions to land a manned mission on the Moon and return them safely, there was also a concerted marketing effort not only to supplement the astronauts and enhance the mission but also out of self-interest and garnering interest for their brand. The always amazing Kottke directs our attention to an incredible curated archive of press kits and presentations put together by NASA contractors that made the journey possible and also strove to keep the crew well stocked with pens, cameras, meals in quarantine after splashdown, watches, etc. Much more to explore at the links above.